Things To Do In Chiang Mai As A Local

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Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand and renowned for its mouthwatering and flavorful northern Thai dishes – most of which are vegetarian and vegan friendly! Furthermore, it’s a city rich of culture, fantastic nightlife and breathtaking landscapes only minutes out of the old town.

After living in Chiang Mai, we’ve narrowed down the best of what this city has to offer far from the typical tourist trail. Check out our top places below and things to do in Chiang Mai as a local!

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

Taja Guesthouse

With its bohemian vibe, lush greenery all around and cozy atmosphere; you feel as though you’ve come home the second you’ve arrived at Taja Guesthouse. The guesthouse offering private rooms equipped with a private bathroom, hot water showers, a large kitchen, living room and plenty of space to hangout in the garden with the cutest dog named Yogi and their chicken named Buck.

Address: Wiangbua Soi 4, Tambon Chang Phueak, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat

Nightlife in Chiang Mai

My Beer Friend

For cheap craft beer, theres no better place than My Beer Friend

(You no longer have to succumb to drinking Thailand local beer ‘Chiang’ that tastes like water and produces the not so sweetest hangover the next morning.)

With that said, Chiang Mai has recently had craft bars popping up and our favorite go-to is My BEER Friend Market. It’s as cheap as chips and a mere 200 baht for a pint of premium stout, IPA and others on tap.

Address: Chang Moi Rd, Chang Moi, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai

Northgate Jazz Bar

North Gate Jazz will have you shaking a tail feather all night long.

Northgate Jazz Co-Op is easily the best Jazz bar in Chiang Mai. This tiny 2 level bar hosts incredibly talented musicians who know how to get the crowd going. You’ll sing, you’ll dance in the streets and you’ll have the night of your life!

Address: 91/1-2, Si Phum Road, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai

Boy Blues Bar

Boy Blues will be sure to entertain – from live music to an eclectic crowd to people watch; theres something for everyone.

If you love live music and a cozy ambiance, Boy Blues Bar is the place for you! Every night there are live bands, the place is packed and brings nothing but good vibes!

Address: (Located in the Night Bazzar) Chang Moi, Mueang Chiang Mai District

Ram Bar

Don’t miss out on the chance to experience Ram Bar. They know how to put on quite a performance!

For an unusual night out, visit Ram Bar every Wednesday to Saturday to experience one of the best cabaret shows in town. Buy one drink and enjoy the show for free at 10:30. A must for anyone visiting Chiang Mai!

Address: 6 Chareon Phrathet Soi T. Chang Klan Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai

Manung Bar

This hidden gem is a favorite amongst locals (and a few expats).

One of the best-hidden gems in Chiang Mai is a cozy local bar hosting live acoustic performances every night, a pool table and reasonably priced drinks with the coolest people in town.

Address: Su Thep, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200

Chiang Mai Markets

Thailand loves their markets and we all do too! Here you can practice your bartering skills without offence and load up on everything under the sun from local artisan crafts, clothing, souvenirs and an overload of delicious street eats.

Saturday Night Market

Opposite the Chiang Mai Gate, you can find an assortment of beautiful handcrafted works of art as well as an abundance of street snacks. Open from 4-11pm every Saturday.

Sunday Walking Street

One of the most famous markets is the 1km long Sunday night market open from 4pm-8pm every Sunday.

Chiang Mai Night Bazar

For all your shopping needs, wander through the night Bazar from 6pm-10: 30pm every night and get ready to barter for the best prices!

Mueang Samut Market

Come as early as 5am to Chiang Mai’s largest food market stretching for miles. From fresh produce to unusual delicacies such as turtles, frogs and more – Mueang Market is a real look into local life and a great spot for street photography.

Top Local Eats

BEST TOM YUM: Tom Yum Kai Wan Noodle

Kai Wan Noodle Restaurant will have you saying “Tom YUMMMM!” after each bite.

Chose between a selection of noodles and various types of Tom Yum including a whole squid, white fish, meats or vegetarian.

Tom Yum is a spicy and sour Thai soup. The broth is made of stock and fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce and crushed chili peppers  accompanied by your chosen protein.

Price: 60 Baht

Address: Near the corner of Arak Road & Suthep Road

BEST KHAO SOI: Khao Soi Mai Sai

We’ve ate our weight in Khao Soi across Chiang Mai and Khao Soi Mai Sai still holds the #1 spot.

Were addicted to Northern Thailand’s famous dish Khao Soi and although we’ve ate it any chance we’ve got, the #1 spot for us is still Khao Soi Mai Sai.

The dish is made with a mix of deep-fried crispy egg noodles, boiled egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, ground chilies in a curry-like sauce containing coconut milk. (Meat or vegetarian available)

Price: 35 Baht.

Address: 29/1 Ratchaphuek Alley

Gunya: Vegan Black Sesame Noodles

For a healthy and 100% vegan black sesame soup, this hidden food spot is our go-to.

Tucked away on a side street, be sure to try the vegan Black Sesame Noodles at Gunya. Everything on the menu is vegetarian but the best is their Black Sesame Noodle.

Address: Side street of Tanin Market

Rice Noodles in Fish Curry Sauce

Do yourself a favor and try their rice noodles in fish curry sauce. For 20 baht, you can’t go wrong!

This local stand makes a delicious and cheap noodle dish that is a favorite amongst locals. Be sure to come in the early afternoon to try their Rice Noodles in Fish Curry Sauce.

Price: 20 Baht

Address: On the corner of Chang Phuak Soi 2

Thai Breakfast: “Joke” – Delicious Seaweed Porridge

For breakfast or a midnight snack, seaweed rice porridge is sure to deliver.

Only open late at night or very early mornings is one of the best Thai breakfasts you need to try before leaving Chiang Mai. This rice porridge is referred too as “joke” and made up of short grain rice that is boiled until is has an oatmeal texture with an egg cracked in the middle, your choice of meat and various seasonings such as crispy seaweed, ginger, spring onions, parsley, black pepper and chili flakes.

You can find many street vendors who sell this; otherwise the best restaurant is Jok Sompet.

Price: 25 Baht.

Address: 59/3 Sri Poom Rd, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai

Hidden Gems of Chiang Mai

We could tell you all about the temples, the touristic restaurants or the slew of places already well-trodden around Chiang Mai – however, below are the top hidden gems and a must see while in and around the city.

Roitawarabarn Baandhawalai: Most Beautiful Art Gallery

One of the most beautiful art galleries in Chiang Mai is unknown to the mass majority of travelers, expats and even locals.

A hidden gem near Chiang Mai University is one of the most beautiful displays of Traditional Thai art as well as the world’s largest wooden Ganesh (made of teak wood, 3 floors high and weighing 5 tons).

You could easily spend hours wandering around the premises watching artists restore ancient art or standing in awe at the beautiful works from floor to ceiling created by local artists.

Address: 79/7 Soi, 2 Suthep Road A. Muang Chiang Mai

Open: every day 9–5pm (free entry)

Huay Tung Tao Lake

Spend the day to rest, relax, eat and drink at Chiang Mai’s “beach”.

Unknown to most travellers is one of the most relaxing spots to hangout outside of the city. On a warm and sunny day, hangout along the crystal clear lake in your own wooden hut and sip on an ice-cold beer. Make sure to try the fried frog legs and water mimosa while you’re here! (Sounds weird but trust us, it’s incredible!)

Entrance Fee: 50 Baht

Wat Sakithaka (Pha Lat)

We all know the term “templed out” but this one will relight your fire.

One of the most magical Buddhist temples is located 15 minutes outside of the old town in a lush jungle and involves a leisurely 40minute hike to the temple. No crowds, lush greenery all around and a stunning temple to match. If you can only visit one; this is it!

Top Panoramic View

Although touristic, the sunrise is stunning and a must while in Chiang Mai.

The view from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep on a clear day is one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city. Sunrise is the best time to watch the city come alive and trust us; it’s worth losing a bit of sleep for.

Related Articles:

Underground Bars In Bangkok: Thailand’s Hidden Nightlife

Top 6 Life-Changing Festivals To See In Thailand

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Shannon Wolf

Born in Toronto, Canada, Shannon Wolf has lived and worked around the globe as a freelance writer and photographer. Over the years her work has been featured and published both in print and online in various publications. Shannon has travelled over 40+ countries on 4 continents in the last 3 years and is an avid food lover and adventurer with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping.


2 thoughts on “Things To Do In Chiang Mai As A Local

  1. Han Thomas says:

    Very nice article, and interesting recommendations that you don’t see everywhere else!

  2. Great tips! I found some of the hidden gems in the last coupe months but I will have to save the rest ( and your blog ! ) for next time in CM !

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